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Marriage is a Journey

Marriage is a Journey

Some say nothing is forever anymore, and maybe that is true, but then again, maybe someone said that who would have rather given up then figured out a solution.

Fourteen years is a long time…I guess.

Fourteen years seems short when you see others married 30, 40, even 60 years. I love the dance at weddings where couples get up and dance and as their year of marriage gets called they have to sit down. I always try to guess how long the last couple will be married. And at the last few weddings (well the last few pre-COVID-19 weddings), I have been blown away at the years together: one was 56 years, another 63, another 60! How amazing, and the best is when they dance, they look so happy! But truth be told, I’m absolutely sure not every day of their married lives were a walk in the park, was as blissful as that one moment I got to see.

This year marks FOURTEEN years of marriage for my husband and me. I guess considering we are only 36 that is a long time, but then again I’m still 45+ years away from those happy dancing couples I saw dancing last year.

Marring Brian was easy, I knew I was going to marry him when I was twelve years old. How? I’m not really sure, just a part of me knew that. And just when I thought I’d lost my chance, I went all in, and yep, as the story goes, at 17 we became high school sweethearts.

We’ve only been married for 5,110+ days, but I assure you, we know commitment. Life is not easy and when you combine your life with another, well let’s just say it gets more complicated. Day after day, after day, you have to continually consider the other person’s needs, wants, dreams, hopes, even shortcomings, and character defects (because hey, we all have them) and that is in addition to still trying to live your life and do your thing and follow your path.

That commitment pushes your buttons, that commitment warms you up, and in a moment’s notice pours cold water on you. That commitment is confusing, frustrating, and unfair (at times), I bet no one wrote that into their vows.

But commitment is also reassuring, loving, comforting, and supportive, and for me, it feels secure, it feels safe, it’s the biggest promise I will ever make.

I’ve grown a lot in the past fourteen years and I’m sure Brian will say the same, but that growth is kinda part of the ride, like a road trip so to speak, you can plan all you want but the trip usually doesn’t go as planned, and if you get too attached to the plan you will probably always end up disappointed.

So in 14+ years both Brian and I have moved through recovery from an eating disorder, lost our first child, grieved the loss of our first child, opened up a business, took on several other business endeavors, had four kids, bought a house, and are still busy working towards a future together hopefully for many more years to come.

Here’s the thing, I struggled to discover who I was early on in our marriage, I hadn’t really known me for a long time and as I became more myself each day it slowly changed my perception of marriage. I used to think that when you married someone you both then were to be walking one path together. But I would think about that concept often and it just wouldn’t make sense to me and I would be left with confusion as to how this would all work. But then I had a wave of relief one day and for the last thirteen years, I have worked to live my life this way in our marriage.

Married or not, you walk your path, each day you discover more of who you are and what you believe in, how you will help the world. But when you marry, your path aligns with another’s, you don’t walk each other’s path, you don’t block, hurt, or hinder the path of the other. You walk parallel, and when your partner happens to fall behind, you lead, you reach out your hand and help. And then when you find yourself to have fallen, your chosen partner will be there to reach out a hand, to stand strong while you are weak, and lead. Neither person is better than the other because your paths aren’t the same. The roles you share are just that shared. It may be years you carry certain responsibilities and at a moment’s notice that role shifts and the other takes hold.

Marriage is a balance of give and take, there is no room to be selfish, and no matter what there will always be temptation to try to steer you off your path, but one thing Brian and I have talked about is “choice”, everything in life is a choice, and fourteen years ago we made a choice to walk side by side one another through thick and thin, for richer or poor, in sickness and in health, and yes till death do us part. In marriage you learn to ride the wave, if you fight it you’ll end up unhappy, but if you learn to ride it, it becomes just that – a ride!

I don’t know what the next 40 years will bring, heck what the next year will bring, but that is kind of the point. You will never know it all, but as we grow side by side it’s like a new relationship each day, and each of those days is an opportunity to be the best version of ourselves both for our own sake and each other. And that “newness” is a push to learn new things about ourselves, an encouragement to move forward rather than be left behind. Marriage is a balance of all of that and more…

To many more years.. xx

Brian and Hope

 

4 Habits of Determined People

4 Habits of Determined People

4 Habits of Determined People

I am a very determined person. But there is a part of me that still holds onto this “learned behavior” of freezing when things get hard.

It’s not that I would “give up,” but rather, I would freeze.

I wouldn’t know what to do next. The fear of failure or worst making the wrong decision and others being disappointed would paralyze me. Others being “unhappy.”

Last week I was talking to my mentor and telling him about a decision I need to make. And he immediately looked at me and said:

“Hope…you are not responsible for other people’s happiness”.

No, follow up statement. No nothing. I felt the irony of that statement: when he said it, he wasn’t worried if it would make me happy or not. He said it because it was the truth.

For years I had it ? ALL WRONG. ?

I put so much of my energy into ensuring others would be happy. In return, I was killing myself, exhausting myself, to the point I was becoming bitter.

I would be temporarily happy because of my doings… But it never lasted. I would soon need another fix. I could never win.

See, I had being kind and helping others mixed up with making others happy

I use to think that the only way to make others happy was to put them as a priority over myself. To give them everything they ask for. To self-sacrifice, put me at the bottom. Do the “poor me” dance.

This learned behavior was slowly killing me just as fast as my eating disorder was.

Over the last several years, I have been working diligently on cutting the cord of this person’s pleasing disease.

Determined Blog Post Hope Zvara

Here is what I know to be true…

❣️I believe we are all put here on this Earth for a God-given reason.

❣️We all have gifts, talents, and paths.

❣️We all are meant to shine, no one brighter than the next.

❣️But it is up to us as to how we choose to shine-dim our light or turn it up super bright.

My people-pleasing disease was strangling my natural determination superpower. I was driven, focused, and always wanting to do my best. But every time I would get the car running to accomplish BIG things, my people-pleasing disease would step in and sabotage my success. Over the years, I have learned how to effectively harness the skill sets and mindset to drive to my destination with less distraction.

Four Attributes of Determined People:

  1. Most successful people are great at delaying gratification. In the words of Beluga from Willy Wonka, “Daddy, please, I want it now.” And we all know what happened to Beluga. Part of my recovery was learning to sit with ill feelings and emotions. And learning they will pass. Right now, my parents are selling their house, and for my father, this is a roller coaster of emotions because when things don’t happen immediately, he just wants to make rash decisions. Dropping the price dramatically, thinks no one wants it… on and on. He just wants it over. But remember those feelings you are feeling are just feelings, and they will pass. Breathe my friends, and if you can delay that gratification for a bit longer, you may be surprised what you get in the end. 
  2. Most successful people are great at withstanding temptationI see this as several things. Are you trying to lose weight? That chip looks so good at 9:30 pm, doesn’t it? You have a deadline that would skyrocket your business, but you are organizing your office. You want a new job but have yet to do anything that would push you towards that goal outside of Netflix and Chill. My point is this; the temptation is just that-temptation. It’s enhancing immediate gratification for having it later. There is a form of resilience being cultivated when you say no so you can say yes then. You can do it!
  3. Most successful people are great at overcoming fear to do what they need to do. Most of my life, I have had a fear of rejection. Small, large, it doesn’t matter. And overcoming this has been a lot like going to the gym. If you want to develop a specific muscle or muscle group, your best work it and do things that are hard to strengthen that muscle then and, as a result, get better at them. So in my business, I have learned just to do it (thanks Nike). And if I lay out who I need to call the next day and put it in my calendar like an appointment and then just do it before I can overthink and my emotions wiggle their way in, success is within arms reach for me. The result, I’m less anxious around this and have taught myself that rejection is made up and that no’s only lead me to the yes’s waiting for me on the other side. 
  4. Most successful people don’t set priorities; they do the things they decide are most important. What is important to you? It’s hard to figure this out without setting goals. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? Where do you want to be? When we see the destination (no matter how crazy it might sound), knowing this will help you figure out what is essential. I see these things as choices. We all can make choices. What are you choosing to do? Are those choices aligned with what you say you want? 

 

Remember this: Do not ever feel bad for how bright your light is.

And if it makes someone else unhappy, that is for them to fix—not you. But equally as much, learn to be happy when others have a win. In the end, this simple practice will almost always return to you as a win as well. Determined is not just to reach your goal. It’s also to support others when they reach theirs. 

Let me ask you this: Who do you know that is doing amazing things? Who do you do that worked hard for something and got it? Who do you know that has achieved a win, goal, or accomplishment. Now it may be something you have been working your butt off to achieve, and they got there first. Remember that you do not know their past details for detail and do not know their future. But you can choose to be a part of that win by celebrating it with them. Who knows maybe they will inspire or share what they did to get there with you simply because you supported them. 

Full disclosure, I did not grow up in a home where this was a regular practice. When others achieved things around us, there were not supportive cheers; there were usually negativity and sarcasm: jealousy and an unwillingness to step up and be a part of the celebration. Now things change, I’ve changed and refuse to be a part of that type of mindset. And have also come to realize that we only know what we know, and how we behave is sometimes a protection mechanism from pain or rejection. (PS I love all my family, but this is a reality that I think we all can learn from).  

It occurred to me a few years ago that when I try to “make others happy,” I am taking away from them the opportunity to cultivate the necessary skills, talents, and pathways they need to find happiness on their own and keep it.

That it is not for me to judge if they have to go through discomfort, challenge, even rejection to get there, that is their path.

?That conversation reminded me that even though I have come so far, I still have some work.

?That conversation reminded me that I could spend my time trying to make others happy or find myself and be a light showing others how to cultivate it.

?That conversation reminded me that happiness is not something you can “give” people; it is something you can lead others to find themselves.

Today I want to encourage you to take a moment and ask yourself, “what makes YOU happy”?

And before any lame excuses pop into that conversation, ask yourself, “what is the reason you aren’t doing that”?

Reaching your goals hope zvara blog post

In keeping my focus and staying determined in my life, I try to do two things daily:

1. Set goals. Long term goals and short term goals. This helps me stay on track and also evaluate time suck activities-like jealousy and envy, scrolling Facebook to no end, and “organizing.”

2. Staying Grateful. Every night before my kids go to bed, our entire family (me, my husband, and our three kids) pray together, and after we say prayers, we go around and say a prayer for someone and what we can be grateful for. Doing this as a family has brought us closer together, and being able to get a glimpse of what my kids see and then share is impressive. When you go to bed at night, what you are thinking about is what your subconscious meditates on. So if it’s hate, jealousy, lack, and frustration, then that is what you are embedding, not your brain, body, and beliefs—such a simple act with such a powerful result. 

So my reminder today is simple: you are not responsible for another’s happiness.

Instead…

❣️Be a mentor and show others how to cultivate happiness.

❣️Be a mentor and assist others in creating the skills to discover happiness.

❣️Be a mentor, and do the things that make you happy.

Because what good is another’s happiness if you can’t enjoy it with them???

Your happiness has nothing to do with them… and everything to do with Y.O.U

 

Check out some of Hope’s other blogs that focus on goals and the art of being determined:

5 Steps to Take Ownership Back Over Your Life

Sources:

https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/8-habits-of-people-with-exceptional-determination-and-willpower.html

Dear Driven Woman: Keep Going

Dear Driven Woman: Keep Going

Dear Driven Woman,

Keep going. I get you–I see you–I am you. Even though you may feel alone at times, you are not. To get where you want to go isn’t easy. It will take every ounce of you but I know you can do this. I believe in you.

I AM DIFFERENT

It is said that adversity reveals one’s true character. For me, this couldn’t have been truer. 

I never really put much thought into the “type” of person I was. Growing up, I realized at an early age that others didn’t think like me.  They just weren’t motivated like I was. However, as I struggled with an eating disorder and an endless list of additional “problems”, it wasn’t until then that I truly saw the depths of my own character. I WAS different. 

CHOOSING TO THRIVE

As I was working through my recovery, not one but THREE doctors all told me the same thing–“Best case scenario, Hope, is that you need to learn how to ‘function’ in this world, on medication.” I KNEW that wasn’t my destiny and I wasn’t going to be satisfied with simply surviving in life. My destiny was to thrive and I was going to do it my way–because I was different. 

Driven Woman Hope Zvara Mother Trucker Yoga Blog Post

Hope Zvara of Mother Trucker Yoga

We are all different and have different values. There are certain things that drive us, motivate us, and push us over the edge. For me–I love working and enjoy contributing. Idle downtime is the devil for me. My idea of “downtime” is yoga, going for a walk, working out at the gym, or playing with my kids. Working and contributing allows me to thrive in life rather than simply surviving. To be honest, working and contributing helped me recover and continues to help me stay the path. That’s me. For you–you might be the complete opposite and that’s okay. It’s what makes the world go round. 

NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR BEING YOU

Continually over the last 15 years, countless onlookers have said to me:

  • “You are so busy.”
  • “Hope, you do way too much.”
  • “How do you have time to do ______?”
  • “You should slow down and take a breath.”
  • “Hope–you just never stop, do you?”
  • “Listen, you should slow down and take a breath.”

Well, guess what–this is just HOW I AM! I never see working or contributing in life as “doing so much” or “being busy.” I have goals, dreams, and the determination to get there. I am driven and recognize that no one will build the life I want except for me. My purpose surrounds my family and my job. Both enable me to stay healthy. I built a successful business and my family continues to thrive. I will not apologize for this–ever. I’ll never apologize for being me. 

So, what you may view as “busy,” is me being me. When you say, “Hope, your plate is too full”, well that is me filling my cup with great things. When you suggest that I “need to slow down”, it’s me actually being driven and focused. Furthermore, you should never judge a book by its cover. 

never apologize for being a powerful woman blog post

BUSY VS. PRODUCTIVE

I learned a long time ago–there is a difference between busy work and doing things that build something great. No matter who you are that may be worth reflecting on.

Being busy just for the sake of being active is a waste of time, energy and will eventually break you. But entering into tasks, ideas, and projects that build what you want and where you want to go, is a smart and effective use of your time and talents.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

I’ll leave you with this: To all those out there who are highly motivated, go-getters, and dream seekers–keep doing you I see you, I get you, I’m cheering for you.

For those people that have time to judge the actions of others, I urge you to consider that maybe you could be a bit more motivated, driven, or purposeful. And, please, consider what comes out of your mouth and how it may affect the person you are saying it to. Words hurt.

Blessings,

Hope

Hope Zvara Square image

 

#dailydoseofhope

PS. I am confident that someone will read this post and take offense. To those people, I urge you to dig a bit deeper and ask yourself why. You may be surprised as to what you find.

4 Steps to Getting Out of Your Own Way

4 Steps to Getting Out of Your Own Way

My life has been filled with some super deep, dark lows, fantastic highs, and everything in between. I’ve projected my own shortcomings onto other people. My self-sabotaging behavior has occurred more times than I’d care to admit. Worst of all, I rarely even realized I was doing it.

The truth is, I had become a master at standing in my own way. 

Changing My Ways

Our personality and life experiences determine the ways we think and react. I grew up observing people in my life, blame, judge, and criticize those around them. So, naturally, that was the pattern I fell in to. It was easier to blame others than take ownership and responsibility for my own actions. However, at some point, I decided that I was in charge of my own journey. 

Creating New Habits

Without realizing it, I had been living a life of self-sabotage. My negative ways of thinking and feeling were controlling my everyday life. Instead of focusing on the things I couldn’t control, I decided that I had to focus on the most significant barrier in my life. It was the one that I had the most control over–myself. 

Learning to get out of my own way and pivot was a process. It wasn’t easy. I had to dismantle the sole self-defense mechanism that I had been using my entire life and develop new ways of thinking. I decided that I was going to get something out of everything. I was going to learn from everything and always ask myself before I speak, type, or share: “How will this help me or others?”

This simple mindset shift helped me get out of my own way. It made me:

♥️ Swallow my pride.

♥️ Move forward and let things go–even when I didn’t want to.

♥️ Press on and keep on so I could move on.

If you worried you’re getting in your own way, too, here are my tips to help you overcome your old ways.

4 Ways to Get Out of Your Own Way and Pivot

Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing? Who benefits from what you are about to do or say? What value does it put back on life after such an engagement? Getting clear here will help you speak and begin to live more confidently. 

1. Focus on What is Essential

It is easy to get distracted by things that don’t matter in life. Before you know it, that “thing” is consuming everything you are thinking about and everything you do. Every day, take a timeout minute and think about all the things, people, and experiences that make you grateful. Bonus- write them down. Doing so helps get your mind in the right frame of mind because nothing good comes from anger and hate.

2. Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People

I know this can be challenging because we faced with unrealistic perfection in today’s world. Filters, edited life moments, what some call the “highlights reel” of someone’s life, makes the stress of not being enough can be overwhelming. A few years ago, I stopped looking at the tabloids and magazines in the checkout aisles. Why? Well, I realized that looking at celebrities’ perfect lives and bodies was giving me anxiety and pushing my mood and mind in a negative direction. So, I stopped looking at them. I limited social media scrolling and took time to notice trigger people, feeds, and posts. And I stay away. 

3. Change the Script

There was a time in my life that I would look back on my life and only see struggles and unfair circumstances. When I recognized that I wanted to get well and didn’t want to be a spiraling out addict anymore, I started to change my internal script. Instead of seeing all the bad, that happened to me as a punishment. I began to look at it as learning things I needed to learn and preparing me for something bigger than me. I began to see the challenges as opportunities to help me. They helped me later connect with my audience, students, and friends and give perspective I would not have had without my unfair struggle.

4. Give Yourself a Timeout

I know there are mixed feelings about giving a time out. But timeouts can offer us a moment to breathe, feel, and process. Yes, I am that parent that uses timeouts with my kids. It’s not so much a punishment as it is a time to breathe, feel, and think. I approach those timeouts as moments where they can figure out what they are feeling, breathe, and calm down so we can have a conversation and communicate. Timeouts, when done correctly, can be helpful tools for all parties and can both teach and foster personal growth and self-control. As an adult, I have learned first hand the full value of stepping away and then using the timeout not to think negative thoughts. But to process the situation and how I feel. 

The Choice Is Yours

Today, as you read this, I believe you have two choices. You can either continue to be wrapped up in your own story, your struggle, your fears, worry, jealously, and sadness OR you can GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY AND PIVOT.

No one but you can get you to move out of your own way. You are in charge of your own destiny. So, the choice is yours: Do You Want to Thrive or Survive?

Safe and Healthy Communication: It’s Never Too Late To Build These Skills

Safe and Healthy Communication: It’s Never Too Late To Build These Skills

If you had asked me what a safe relationship was as a kid or even a young adult, I would have responded that the other isn’t physically harming you. But there is more to a healthy relationship than what goes on physically. Open, honest, and safe communication is a fundamental part of any healthy relationship

It has become apparent that there were many emotional processing and communication skills I was lacking and, unfortunately, never learned as a growing kid and teen.

Years ago, I had an addiction and survived because that deep dark struggle brought forth the need for these necessary skills. 

Now in my thirties, I am so grateful to have learned:

  • Boundaries, what they are, why they are necessary, and how to set them
  • Effective communication
  • How anger is a surface emotion for sadness and hurt
  • Sharing how I feel is to help, not hurt.
  • It is not my responsibility as to how others receive my feelings.
  • There are healthy ways to communicate even scary, uncomfortable things.

 

Years ago, I would not have known how to communicate safely and healthily. I would not have known how to validate another’s experience because I would have been too overwhelmed with my own. I would not have known that I could feel one thing and someone else feel another and still be OK.

We all have the opportunity to grow. To learn. To expand. To be stretched.

That the way we respond to situations and things is often more about us than it is about the other person. When I finally understood that my relationship with life, others, and I made a massive shift. 

Vienna Pharaon Quote - Hope Zvara Blog Post

We all can make a shift. That shift can be an uphill battle, or it can be a process where we can all learn from the way we have done things in the past, how others respond and grow from them. Learning effective communication has been a game-changer for me to transform my relationships with my husband, my kids, clients, and my parents. I am no longer tied to the back of their car as they ride the rolling hills of their life and emotions. 

If you want to create safe and healthy relationships, you must effectively communicate (PERIOD). Going through the process of recovery has taught me that the first relationship I need to improve is the one with myself. I had to relearn how to process my emotions because the two strategies I was taught were exploding, and holding it in, wasn’t working. That process was long and, at times, overwhelming. But moment by moment, month by month, year by year, things began to change. And for me, yoga had a lot to do with that process. I used my yoga mat to learn to feel, learn to process and learn to take action. Yoga became a place where I rekindled my relationship with my Higher Power and slowly with those that I love. My yoga mat helped me understand that what I was feeling didn’t have to dictate how I lived. And teaching yoga taught me how others felt didn’t have to run my life.  

My hope for you today is to step back and breathe.? This coming from the girl who had explosive reactions and took everything personal-step back and takes a breath.

Doing so requires you to do two simple things: 

  1. STOP and step back (literally, step back).
  2. Inhale and exhale.

Being stuck in our heads makes taking any action twice as tricky. That is why the yoga I know was pivotal in my recovery and learning these vital skills to better communicate with myself and others. 

And do not be afraid that even after taking a breath (or many breaths), what needs to be said may not be warm and fuzzy, but it needs to be said…⏩Press on.

Other people try to complicate this process and make you buy into a profound complexity of how it is to learn better, more effective communication. And sure there are additional ways to dig deeper, but what I’m telling you is, until you can stop, step back and take a breath in those moments, all those other fancy steps won’t work. They won’t work because you haven’t called time out. Just like my 11-year-old need a time out to take a moment, breath, and emotionally calm down so he can feel and better communicate. We as adults often need that too.

A business coach once told me some conversations are more effective when there is space (time) put in-between them.

Now some people are against time out because it seems harsh or cold. But a time out gives you time to feel, breathe, and process so you can come back and respect the conversation and relationship. It helps you decide what is truly important to communicate when approaching a time out from a whole place. There have been hundreds of things I wanted to say to the person on the other end. But when I gave it time, I discovered that it was something else, something more profound, or it was more about me and how I was feeling from another situation than the one that was currently in front of me. 

My yoga mat was often my time out. I would go there to feel, process, and step away so I could figure out what was going on. See the pattern, see the conversation in a new light, see what I want to say, and sit with the feeling I was having around that conversation, that person and the relationship.

?I have a mantra that I tell myself daily: “I cannot control how others perceive and receive me and what I have to say, as long as I say it with kindness…say it”.

One of the BIGGEST skils I have cultivated when it comes to healthy and safe communication is the ability to “sit” with feelings, and even more sit with the possibility that someone else may not have liked what I had to say, and may project unhappiness towards me. But knowing I have control over how I respond. And within receiving that, an opportunity to learn from it has now become a blessing. So keep breathing my friend, keep feeling, and remember that validating another in no way invalidates you.

May those that need to hear this find it ♥️.

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